DOT safety strategy sessions continue this week

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Aug. 3, 1999) — Truckers and other transportation representatives will meet at the U.S. Dept. of Transportation for the second time this week to continue building DOT’s strategic plan for improving truck and bus safety.

At the first session in July, the representatives forecast the major economic and technological trends that will shape the future of the truck and bus industries. This week, they will come up with the strategies that will lead to DOT’s goal of reducing fatalities in truck- and bus-related accidents by 50% over the next 10 years.

Among the 70 invited attendees were truckers, trucking association executives and truck manufacturers, as well as stakeholders from labor, public interest groups and the safety enforcement community.

A central theme that emerged from the first meeting was that no matter what scenario is applied to the future, the safety challenge is only going to get tougher. If the economy stays strong, then there will be more freight, more congestion and a continuing driver shortage. If the economy weakens, then there will be less money to implement helpful technologies.

Another theme was that DOT is going to have to broaden its approach in order to achieve its goal. Trucks and buses can get safer, but it will not be possible to achieve the 50% improvement in truck-related fatalities without changing how shippers and receivers operate, and how automobile drivers behave, participants said.

The meetings come one day after the Clinton administration proposed mandatory onboard recorders or similar devices on some vehicles to track driver hours of service.

The administration bill also directs DOT to issue rules requiring “appropriate types” of trucking operations to use onboard recorders or other technologies to track driver hours.

It would toughen the commercial driver license by requiring in-vehicle driver training and prohibiting special permits for CDL holders whose car license has been suspended, and would require new truckers to complete a safety training and compliance course.

The bill directs DOT to study the impact of driver payment methods on safety, and would require all truckers, including private carriers, to file periodic identification reports.

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